This publication provides information about employment of people with disabilities to employers and employees. Many barriers such as widespread ignorance, fear and stereotypes have caused people with disabilities to be unfairly discriminated against in society and in employment. For these reasons they are a designated group in terms of the Employment Equity Act, 1998.
The Minister of Labour has therefore approved a Code of Good Practice on the Employment of People with Disabilities in terms of the Employment Equity Act, 1998.
"It's time to give people with disabilities an equal opportunity"
Aim of the Code
The Code is a guide for employers and workers to encourage equal opportunities and fair treatment of people with disabilities as required by the Act.
The Code is intended to educate and inform employers and workers to understand their rights and obligations to promote certainty and to reduce disputes so that people with disabilities can effectively enjoy and exercise their rights at work.
The Code is intended to help create awareness of the contributions people with disabilities can make and to encourage employers to fully use the skills of such people.
Definition of "People with Disabilities"
In terms of the Act the focus is on the effect of a disability on the person in relation to the working environment, and not on the diagnosis or the impairment.
People are considered as "People with Disabilities" who satisfy all the criteria in the definition:
- having a physical or mental impairment
- which is long term or recurring, and
- which substantially limits their prospects of entry into or advancement in employment.
Reasonable accomodate the needs of People with Disabilities
Employers should adopt the most cost-effective mean that is consistent with effectively removing the barriers to perform the job, and to enjoy equal access to the benefits and opportunities of employment. Reasonable accommodation applies to applicants and staff members with disabilities who are suitably qualified for the job and may be required:
- during the recruitment and selection process
- in the working environment
- in the way work is usually done, evaluated and rewarded
- in the benefits and privileges of employment.
Recruitment and Selection of People with Disabilities
Employers should make job advertisements accessible to people with disabilities by identifying the inherent requirements of the post, clearly describing the skills and capabilities required and setting reasonable criteria for selection.
Medical and Psychological Testing
Tests should comply with the requirements of the Act and must be relevant and appropriate to the work for which the person is being tested. Employers should ensure that tests do not unfairly exclude conditions and should not be biased on how or when they are applied, assessed or interpreted.
Testing to determine the health status of a person should only be carried out after the employer has established that the person is in fact competent to perform the essential job functions or duties and after a job offer has been made.
Training and Career Advancement
People with disabilities should be consulted on their career advancement and possible needs and so facilities and materials for training should be accessible to them. Evaluation of work performance should clearly identify and fairly measure and reward performance of the essential functions of the job.
Retaining People with Disabilities
Workers who become disabled during employment should, where reasonably possible, be re-integrated into the work force. IF reasonable, employers should explore the possibility of offering alternative work, reduced work or flexible work placement, so that workers are not compelled or encouraged to terminate their employment.
Compensation for People with Disabilities
When workers become disabled because of work related illnesses or accidents, the employer should assist that worker to receive the relevant assistance in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injures and Diseases Act from the Compensation Fund and to receive the appropriate benefits in terms of the Unemployment Insurance Act.
Employers must protect the confidentiality of information that has been disclosed by a worker or job applicant with a disability. They must take care to keep records of private information relating to the disability confidential and separate from general personal records.
Employers may not disclose any information relating to a person's disability without the written consent of the person concerned, unless required to do so by law.
Benefits for Staff Members
Employers who provide or arrange for occupational insurance or other benefit plans for workers must ensure that the benefits do not unfairly discriminate, either directly or indirectly against people with disabilities.
Employment Equity Planning
If people with disabilities are under-represented in all occupational levels and categories in the workplace, the employer should seek guidance from organisations that represent people with disabilities or relevant experts, for example in vocational rehabilitation and occupational therapy to bring those vacancies to the attention of possible work seekers with disabilities.
Education and Awareness
Employers, employer organisations and trade unions should include the Code in orientation, education and training programmes of workers.
For more information consult the Employment Equity Act, 1998 and the Code of Good Practice on the Employment of People with Disabilities on the website of the Department of Labour at www.labour.gov.za or contact the CCMA helpline at 0861 161616 or the nearest office of the Department of Labour.
Department of Labour (The Government of South Africa)
AUTHOR: Chief Directorate of Communications for the Directorate of Equal Opportunities